More Book Signings and Events - 2014 Edition

Happy New Year! The cheese book blitz, such as it is, continues with dates listed below. I will update this as needed so once again, keep checking back for new information. In the meantime, there's been a few reviews and some press about the book - I'll list some of that below:

Whey Ahead: The History of Pacific Northwest Cheese by Rebekah Denn posted on the Seattle Times All You Can Eat blog

Book Review: Pacific Northwest Cheese: A History by Matt Spiegler of the blog Cheese Notes

Pacific Northwest Cheese: A History by Kirstin Jackson of the blog It's Not You, It's Brie (and incidentally, author of a book by the same name)

Also, the Seattle Times did a Q&A with me that was published recently, you can find it here.

And lastly, I've recently set up an author website, so check out when you get a chance!


Tuesday January 14th :: 7pm  University of Washington Bookstore  Seattle, Washington (U-District location)

Satuday February 15th :: 2pm   Powell's event at Pastaworks on SE Hawthorne Portland, Oregon in conjunction with Shannon Borg, author of The Green Vine: A Guide to West Coast Organic, Biodynamic and Sustainable Wine

Thursday February 27th :: 7pm  Auntie's Bookstore Spokane, Washington

Saturday March 8th :: 4pm   Village Books Bellingham, Washington

Saturday April 12th :: 2pm   Cannon Beach Library Cannon Beach, Oregon

Saturday April 19th :: 7pm  Rediscovered Books  Boise, Idaho

Sunday August 10th :: 2pm  Oregon Historical Society Second Sunday Series Portland Oregon

Wednesday November 12th :: Noon  Second Wednesday Lecture Series at the Washington State Historical Society  Tacoma, WA

The Wedge Festival :: Saturday October 6th 10AM-4PM in Portland

Cheese lovers - rejoice! This Saturday, October 6th, the Oregon Cheese Guild presents the annual ever-popular Wedge Festival in Portland. Join dozens of cheesemakers from around the region  in this farmers market style event. Taste, sample, savor local cheeses you've come to know and love, including those from Willamette Valley Cheese Co., Rivers Edge Chèvre and Briar Rose Creamery. And if that isn't enough cheese for you, not to worry, festival sponsor Rogue Ales is promising a Grilled Cheese Bar in which you can choose from among a variety of locally produced artisan cheeses to stick between slices of bread.

In addition to the cheese, several seminars are planned, including Beer and Cheese (11am), Northwest Cheese 101 (1pm), and Complementing Your Cheese (3pm), each hosted by Amanda Parker of Murray's Cheese. Seminar tickets are $10/each and can be purchased online here.

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When:  Saturday October 6, 2012  10AM-4PM Where:  Green Dragon Pub, 928 SE 9th Ave., Portland, Oregon Cost:  $5 suggested donation to benefit the Oregon Cheese Guild

Seattle Cheese Festival May 14-15th 2011

It's that time of the year again - time to head down to Seattle's Pike Place Market this coming Saturday and Sunday May 14 & 15th, 2011 for the Seattle Cheese Festival. This is the seventh year (can you believe it?!) that DeLaurenti's has put on this big cheese event and I've no doubt that this year it will be bigger and better than ever.

What you can expect: great seminars (sign up now, before they're sold out!), lots and lots of cheese, a chef's stage where you can pick up some tips for cooking with cheese, a wine tent where you can sample lots of great local wine - with a mind to pairing with cheese, of course. There will also be a mozzarella making demo stage and it's happening basically every hour and a half on both days (schedule here). This is a big, enthusiastic festival brimming over with lots and lots of people with whom you can share your passion for all things cheese.

For the full rundown of events, schedules and/or to volunteer, see the website here.

Seattle's Calf and Kid Cheese Shop Celebrates its 1st Anniversary this Weekend


The Calf and Kid Artisan Cheese ShopCongratulations to Sheri LaVigne, proprietress of The Calf and Kid in Seattle! This weekend (that's April 23rd and 24th, 2011) marks the first anniversary of the shop's opening. Keeping a retail shop open is hard anywhere in any economic climate and keeping a cheese shop open has to be even harder but Sheri has managed to capture the hearts and minds of Seattleites hungry for good cheese.

Stop by and congratulate Sheri and staff....especially on Saturday April 24th at 3pm, when Sheri will crack an 80-ish pound wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano. I've talked about the experience of watching the opening of one those babies here; it's one of those revelatory food moments that you'll never forget.

----> See my prior interview with Sheri LaVigne here.

Recap: 2010 Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival

The Dairy Farmers of Canada have released this video recap of the 3rd annual Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival, held just yesterday (for future reference, that's Saturday, August 14th) in Whistler, BC. Looks like it was a lot of fun! If you were there - let us know how it went in the comments!

Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival :: Whistler, BC August 14th, 2010

Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival

The 2009 race winners show off their prizes

You're  familiar with the Cheese Rolling Festival at Coooper's Hill in Gloucestershire, England, right? The one where they throw wheels of cheese down the hill and people chase after them?

Well, the Dairy Farmers of Canada, inspired by that bit of wackiness, have developed their own version of this emerging sport. The Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival will be held in Whistler, BC at Whistler Blackcombe - on hills which double as ski slopes during the winter - this coming Saturday, August 14th, 2010. Festivities begin at noon.

In order to participate in the big race/roll, you must show up starting at 11am to register for the various men's and women's events (note that you must be over 19 years of age to enter). And there will be lots of other stuff going on during the day as well - an uphill race for the kids, cheese bowling through an obstacle course, seminars and cheese sampling at the Farmer's Market, which will feature several Canadian cheesemakers including Natural Pastures Cheese Co. and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. So really, it's a big party - and who doesn't want to witness the development of a worldwide cheese themed contact sport?

And what of the actual cheese being rolled?  It's a specially developed 11lb wheel of Cracked Pepper Verdelait from Natural Pastures Cheese Co. in Courtenay, BC. Worth chasing after, for sure. So damn the risk, damn the liability, get yourself out there!


American Cheese Society Conference in Seattle August 25-28th, 2010

American Cheese Society Conference

American Cheese Society Conference August 25-28, 2010 Seattle, WA click here for more conference and registration info


The American Cheese Society Conference is coming to Seattle next month! Cheese people from all over the country (and the world) will be converging in Seattle at the end of August to talk cheese, eat cheese, distribute cheese awards and generally have a big cheese party. If you are at all interested in cheese, if you're thinking about starting your own cheesemaking operation or if you are just kind of curious about the whole cheese world - this is a fantastic opportunity to meet people, ask questions and learn about the business.

There are several aspects to an ACS event. First, there's the conference itself. For registered ACS members, there are several days of seminars and other education events designed to disseminate information about topics like safety, cheesemaking techniques and so on. What's really great about this year's event is that the organizers have put together some superb speakers, including fromager  Roland Barthelemy and Michael Pollan, who will be giving the closing address.

There's also the competition. This starts several days before the conference actually begins; cheese judges meet to sample and rate this years crop of competitors....over 1,400 cheeses are in the running this year so it should be a great race. Who will win Best in Show? Winners are announced on Saturday night....see below.

Then, there's the infamous Festival of Cheese. Held on Saturday night, this event is open to the public (click here for event and ticket info). Here, all of the cheese from the competition - remember, that's 1,400+ cheeses - is set out for attendees to sample and enjoy. I promise you, you've never seen more cheese in one place in your life. EVER. This year's Festival of Cheese promises to be especially grand because it will be held at Seattle's Benaroya Hall, a symphony and performance space that's a huge step up from the stuffy hotel conference rooms of the past. The competition awards ceremony will be held, then attendees will be released to mingle and sample and get drunk. Did I say that? And great restaurants from around the city will be on hand providing small bites for guests to mix things up a bit.

The biggest cheese party of 2010 in the Pacific Northwest is in Seattle in August folks, and even if you can't do the full conference you can definitely do the Festival of register soon before it sells out!!! See you there.


Interview: Roger Bass of Madison Market in Seattle

photo of Roger Bass courtesy Madison Market


Madison Market is one of Seattle's great food stores. Located at the crest of Capitol Hill, its shiny and well-stocked store represents a dramatic evolution from the co-op's humble beginnings on 12th and Denny (where I was once a member!). I don't recall Central Co-op having a great cheese selection back in the 1980s, but that's all changed. Today at Madison Market you'll find one of the best selections of local cheese in Seattle. Cheesemonger Roger Bass is the mastermind behind all of those lovely, carefully cared for dairy gems and in honor of Madison Market's upcoming Cascadia Cheese Festival (see below) I took some time to chat with Roger about how and why he does what he does.

Cascadia Cheese Festival July 24th 11am-3pm Madison Market, 16th and Madison in Seattle Free!

On July 24th from 11-4pm, Roger and the crew will welcome cheesemakers from Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese, Larkhaven Farm, Kurtwood Farms and others as well as sample cheeses from around the region. I will be there as well signing copies of my book, Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest. Come sample, meet cheesemakers and immerse yourself in local cheese! And it's all free!

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Roger, you're originally from did growing up in the Cheese Heartland of the US influence your later career choice?

I grew up in Wisconsin at a time when you were more likely to find Velveeta or government cheddar in one's refrigerator. My dad would often take us ice fishing with a big thermos filled with a soup made from Velveeta, chicken stock and cauliflower. I remember loving it as a kid; I'm not sure how I'd react to such a concoction now. Oddly enough, my first experience selling cheese was for our yearly Boy Scout fund raiser.  There were three choices; Brick, Colby or Cheddar. Colby was my favorite and best seller.

Tell us how you became a cheesemonger. You started at DeLaurenti's in Seattle, is that right?

I stumbled upon cheese when I worked at DeLaurenti's 9 years ago and I haven't looked back. I loved working at DeLaurenti's, the selection of cheese they have is amazing. Being a fledgling foodie it was a big challenge to learn all of the cheeses they carried. Learning their names, pronunciation, milk type, flavor profiles and what they would pair with was challenging. Connie Rizzo, the cheese buyer, was a wealth of information and I bugged her constantly. I filled my head with as much stuff that would fit; working at DeLaurenti's was like a cheese university.

I've been at Central Co-op's Madison Market for 6 years. Here at the Co-op I got a crash course in clean, sustainable and local foods. It's pretty cool to work for a place that lets me follow my passions. For instance when I came up with the idea for the Cascadia Cheese Festival, the Co-op got behind me to make it a reality.

With so many great local cheeses out there, how do you choose which to feature and sell? What are some of your current favorites?

Right now one of my favorites is Dinah's Cheese from Kurtwood Farms; Kurt drops off his cheese every Wednesday and it's always in perfect shape. I have a huge crush on Pat Morford from Rivers Edge Chevre, her cheeses like Sunset Bay, Astraea and Cape Foulweather are great examples of how a talented she is. Not only do they taste amazing they are also gorgeous to look at. I just got Kelli Estrella's Brewleggio the other day and it made my knees weak. At room temperature it almost melted in my mouth. We are really lucky to live in the Northwest, the cheese being made here is some of the best examples of American artisan cheeses.

What sorts of cheeses do people like to buy at Central Co-op? Do you find that their consumption tends towards certain styles or types of cheeses?

We are a grocery store so most of the time people stop in to get the basics. I try to have the best quality Parmagiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Gruyere, Swiss and Feta at the lowest prices on Capitol Hill.  More and more our customers are asking for local cheeses. I have fans of anything made from raw milk or from goat or sheep milk. There are the customers that are only looking for something new. Of course there are others that have their favorites that they pick up every week. It's a mixed bag really.

Our customers shop at Central Co-op because they believe in supporting local and sustainable agriculture. I try not to disappoint them by carrying as many NW cheeses as I can find.

What are the hardest and most fun parts of being a cheesemonger? I love to sell cheese. By far the best part of my job is getting someone excited about buying cheese. Buying cheese can be intimidating so I love to sample and tell the story.  Also, it feels really good when a customer will pull me aside to thank me for helping them with a selection of cheese I had help pick out. I also love turning vegans to non-vegans, I only have two vegan co-workers left to convert.

The hardest part of my job is selling soy "cheese," although I refuse it put it in the specialty cheese case. I still get customers asking about what soy "cheese" melts the best.